Getting a full 40 minutes of effort was going to be the only recipe for success for the North Dakota State women’s basketball team this March.
Saturday against South Dakota State, they got 13 minutes before it started to go south. NDSU fell 87-62 as the season came to a close in Sioux Falls.
Out of the gate, it was the Bison who jumped out early. Reilly Jacobson scored the first four points for the Bison before Sarah Jacobson knocked down a pair of threes to give NDSU a lead.
The Bison took advantage of SDSU not scoring for two and a half minutes and went on a 7-0 run. The Jacks brought the Bison back to tie the game at the end of the first.
“I was very pleased with the way the Bison came out,” Bison head coach Maren Walseth said. “We talked a lot about belief and confidence in the last week or so. The belief and confidence was very high.”
In the second, the Bison starters went silent. Michelle Gaislerova came off the bench and kept the Bison in it, scoring seven points in four minutes.
From there on in, it was all Jackrabbits. Over the last seven minutes of the half, the Jacks outscored the Bison 23-3. Tylee Irwin put up eight points in three minutes to spark the run.
“I think we got a little bit tired and let fatigue set in,” Reilly Jacobson said. “We weren’t mentally focused and telling ourselves we can be fatigued later.”
The Jacks’ ability to get to the line spelt trouble for the Bison. NDSU committed six fouls in the final six minutes, and SDSU responded by going 7 for 7 from the charity stripe.
At the other end, nothing could fall for the Bison. NDSU walked into the locker room having made just a single field goal in their last 10 attempts. Tyrah Spencer was the only Bison with a field goal, 3 minutes and 41 seconds from the buzzer.
By the time the buzzer sounded, the damage was already done. SDSU led 48-31.
In the third, the Jacks seemingly took their foot off the pedal, going scoreless for nearly four minutes. NDSU failed to respond, scoring with just Reilly Jacobson, who fought for a layup and later converted a free throw.
The fourth played just like the third, this time with more Bison turnovers. NDSU coughed the ball up 17 times, including 11 in the final 20 minutes.
SDSU converted the turnovers into 16 points.
Miller led all scorers with 19 points in the contest. Irwin added 12 from the bench, as SDSU held a 43-28 edge in bench scoring.
Reilly Jacobson led the Bison with 19 points and 12 rebounds for the double-double, her fifth of the season. Giaslerova was the only other Bison in double digits with 10 points.
Any good news for the Bison will have to wait until next season. That good news is that the team will lose just one senior in Taylor Thunstedt. The Spicer, Minnesota native wrapped up her Bison career with just five points in the game, but leaves as the program leader in 3-pointers with 278 after connecting on one late in the game.
The starting lineup the Bison rolled out in Sioux Falls, and for most of the season, was all sophomores. The core of the lineup should return next year, along with some fresh faces.
“A lot is going to happen. We are going to welcome incoming freshman and some transfers to our program,” Walseth said. “We are going to be a different team. I see us being more confident; I see us being able to play a bit faster.”
NDSU finish the season at 9-20 (2-12 in the Summit League). The Bison are now winless in their last eight trips to the conference tournament. The last win came in 2009 against Western Illinois.